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The Prospects of Catching up for New EU Members Lessons for the Accession Countries to the European Union from Previous Enlargements


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  • Jan Delhey



With EU membership, politicians as well as citizens in the accession countries hope to achieve improvements in living conditions and – at least in the long run – to catch up with the West European societies. Catch-up modernization of the less advanced member states is also an ”official” goal of EU policy. Expert opinions about the prospects for success, however, vary widely. In this paper, a general model for how EU policy influences quality of life in less well-off member countries is presented. An analysis of former enlargements – the cohesion countries Ireland, Greece, Portugal, and Spain – reveals that EU integration obviously facilitates processes of catch up but does not guarantee them. This is demonstrated by using indicators covering different aspects of quality of life, per capita income (material living conditions), social protection ratios (general quality of society), and life satisfaction (subjective well-being). Bearing in mind their particular economic and social conditions and their heterogeneity, the prospects of the future member states are discussed. -- Mit der Mitgliedschaft in der EU verbinden Politiker wie Bürger in den Beitrittsländern die Hoffnung auf verbesserte Lebensbedingungen und – zumindest auf lange Sicht – auf ein Aufholen gegenüber den wohlhabenden westeuropäischen Gesellschaften. Eine solche nachholende Modernisierung ist auch offizielles Ziel der EU-Politik. Die Aussichten auf ein Gelingen werden von Experten aber ganz unterschiedlich beurteilt. In diesem Artikel wird ein Modell vorgestellt, das zeigt, wie die EU-Mitgliedschaft die Lebensqualität in ärmeren und leistungsschwächeren Ländern beeinflußt. Der Blick auf frühere Erweiterungen – insbesondere auf die sogenannten Koäsions-Länder Irland, Griechenland, Portugal und Spanien – zeigt, daß die Integration in die EU vorteilhaft ist, aber dennoch ein Aufholen gegenüber den Kernländern nicht garantiert. Dies wird anhand verschiedener Indikatoren il

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 56 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 205-231

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:56:y:2001:i:2:p:205-231

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Keywords: accession countries; catch-up modernization; cohesion; European Union; quality of life;

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  1. Ed Diener & Eunkook Suh, 1997. "Measuring Quality Of Life: Economic, Social, And Subjective Indicators," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 189-216, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Delhey, Jan, 2002. "Korruption in Bewerberländern zur Europäischen Union: Institutionenqualität und Korruption in vergleichender Perspektive," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Social Structure and Social Reporting FS III 02-401, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).


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